Essential Oils

Natural Croup Remedy: Kid-Safe Homemade Vapor Rub & Diffuser Recipes

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Croup is a common health condition that mainly affects babies and younger children.

It’s caused by a viral infection and characterized by respiratory problems and inflammation of the airways, throat, and windpipe.

It usually clears up in 3-5 days.

Symptoms can include:

  • Barking cough (Croup cough)
  • Wheezing
  • Breathing problems
  • Stuffy nose
  • Child’s congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Hoarseness

You can treat croup through home remedies for most cases.

Severe cases may need medical interventions such as steroids and epinephrine to address inflammation.

If symptoms aren’t improving or are worsening for over three days, contact your pediatrician.

Keeping your child comfortable and calm is important because crying and anxiety can worsen symptoms.

For mild cases of croup, the safe use of essential oils and aromatherapy may be a suitable natural living option for your family.

Essential Oils As Natural Remedies For Holistic Health

Essential oils (EOs) are highly concentrated plant extracts containing hundreds of active chemicals known to support the body’s immune system and healing abilities.

In recent years, EOs gained major popularity thanks to their effectiveness in dealing with various kind of ailments like:

Many EOs possess antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

The Best Essential Oils For Croup

The following essential oils are regarded as safe for babies older than three months and young children. Many of these oils are antivirals and anti-inflammatories:

  • Lavender oil
  • Frankincense
  • Tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia)
  • Chamomile
  • Ginger
  • Rosalina
  • Lemon
  • Cypress
  • Fir Needle

How To Use Essential Oils For Croup

There are various methods of applications to choose from depending on what your child most responds to:

  • Diffuser or humidifier – Follow the recipe for our essential oil diffuser blends below.
  • Topical application/massage oils – Always dilute EOs with a carrier oil like coconut oil before applying them directly to the skin. Stick to 1-2 drops of EO per 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.
  • Steam inhalation followed by cold-air exposure – Add 2-4 drops of the safe essential oils listed above to a bowl full of very warm water. Place a towel or blanket over your child and place them in front of the bowl to allow the steam to take effect. After a few minutes of steam, take your child to the freezer, and allow them to breathe in the cold air for a few minutes.
  • Healing bath soak – Add 1 cup of Epsom salt, 3 tablespoons of bentonite clay, 2 tablespoons of baking soda, and 4 drops of any of the essential oils on the safe list above. Fill your bathtub with warm water and allow your child to soak in the healing goodness.
  • Warm compress – Fill a glass bowl with warm water and add 2-4 drops of safe essential oils and soak a towel with the water. Apply the warm towel to your child’s chest, back, and forehead.

Pro tips:

  • For topical use, try adding the oil mixture to a roller bottle that you can take with you anywhere. This allows for safe, easy, and no-mess application.
  • There are several starter kits online with roller bottles, inhalers, spray bottles, and storage bottles of different sizes. It’s always a good idea to have clean, empty containers ready for use when you or your family need them. (Simply Google essential oil accessory kits, or look on Amazon for cost-effective options. Choose dark glass, not plastic.)
  • Essential oils recipes using blends of several oils tend to be more medicinally powerful than single oils alone.

Safety Concerns

  • When used safely and mindfully, EOs usually offer little to no side effects.
  • When used topically, EOs must always be diluted in a carrier oil like coconut oil to prevent skin irritation and reactions. (Especially for babies and young children who have more sensitive skin.)
  • It’s advisable to perform a patch test on a non-affected area of the skin and wait 24 hours to confirm no allergic reaction.
  • Be on guard for potential adverse reactions or skin irritation and discontinue use immediately and consult your healthcare provider to seek medical advice.
  • Natural health has its place as does conventional medicine. If your child’s croup symptoms aren’t resolved naturally log by the third day, please seek medical attention.
  • EOs aren’t regulated by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration), so it’s necessary to do your research before buying products to make sure they aren’t diluted or contaminated with harsh chemicals, solvents, and inhalants.
  • Always choose high-quality, certified organic, and therapeutic grade products to make sure you’re experiencing the full medicinal benefits.
  • Some oils are not suitable for babies, young children, pregnant/nursing women, and people with conditions like high blood pressure and epilepsy. Research the contraindications for each oil you use prior to applying them. (For example, rose hip oil should not be used on children of any age.)
  • Most experts agree that EOs should not be used on babies under three months of age.

Suggested age groups for certain oils:

Some oils are safe for use on older children only.

  • Peppermint 6+ years
  • Eucalyptus oil 6+ years
  • Rosemary 6+ years
  • Oregano 2+ years

The book “The Complete Book of Essential Oils for Mama & Baby” by Christina Anthis is a wonderful resource for parents and families looking for natural health tips.

Two DIY Essential Oil Recipes

Infant & Kid Safe Chest Rub

This homemade vapor rub is a non-toxic alternative to the good old fashioned Vicks vapor rub.

Unfortunately, Vicks contains less than favorable ingredients including synthetic chemicals and even petroleum. Use this exact method for added safety in young children.


  • ¼ cup cacao butter (carrier oil)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (carrier oil)
  • 3 drops Rosalina oil
  • 3 drops Tea tree oil
  • 3 drops Lavender oil
  • 3 drops Frankincense


  • Slightly melt cacao butter and coconut oil in a small pot.
  • Add all EOs and stir well.
  • Transfer mixture to small jars or any airtight container with a lid.
  • Allow to fully cool off before topically applying to chest and back as needed.
  • Note: Do not apply to nostrils or any area with mucous membranes.

Healing Diffuser Blend

  • 1 drop of lemon oil
  • 1 drop of tea tree oil
  • 1 drop of ginger oil
  • 1 drop of chamomile oil

Fill your diffuser with distilled water.

For children six months to two years, do not diffuse for longer than 30 minutes at a time.

Make sure the room is well-ventilated.

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